Retail sales grew 1.3% in April, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), signaling a rebound in the sector and beating market expectations.
It follows a revised 0.5% fall reported in March after colder weather meant shoppers were not buying clothes ready for the warmer weather in spring and summer. Compared with April last year, the ONS said sales were up 4.3%.
Despite the strong growth in April, the ONS said that clothing sales were still struggling with temperatures remaining subdued during the month.
ONS statistician Melanie Richard said: "Clothing stores remain the main drag on growth in the retail sector, with sales hampered by unseasonal weather. However, both the volume and value of sales increased in April compared with March as lower prices boosted sales."
Keith Richardson, retail sector managing director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, believes the growth in retail sales is also linked to a boom in house buying in March.
He said: “The rush to complete property deals ahead of the increase in stamp duty for investment properties gave a boost to household goods and furniture, lifting retail sales overall for the first time since January.
“Unseasonal weather and negative inflation meant there were still large areas of weakness elsewhere; fashion struggled with another cold month in April, while retailers in all sectors face higher costs due to the rise in wages brought about by the National Living Wage.
“But we expect this positive trend to feed through into other areas of the sector in the coming months."